I read a timely and revealing article in the Sunday Times of 21st Feb. 2016 on our foreign debt commitments by Prof. Colombage with much interest. It is imperative that even the man on the street should be educated on this debt crisis faced by Sri Lanka due to short-sighted borrowing sprees by the previous Govt. in the guise of developing our infrastructure but at commercial rates of interest.
In other words, the said infrastructure consisting of Highways, Airports, Harbours including Cricket stadiums were built from the savings of the people in the lending countries especially China at a prohibitive borrowing cost to our country. What percentage of Sri Lankan Investment/Savings has gone into these grandiose projects which the average Sri Lankans are so proud to boast with vain glory? We are yet to realise that there is no Gain without Pain!
Therefore, I would beckon the learned Professor to publish his article in both Sinhala and Tamil after including the following in order to convince the ordinary people.
1) Give as many examples as possible to illustrate,
a) Foreign debt stock of USD 24 Bln.
b)) the foreign loans obtained by other entities which are guaranteed by the Govt. amounting to USD 30 Bln.
A break-down of the above figures would be ideal.
2) According to the Author our Foreign Debt servicing (Capital & Interest Repayment) for Next 12 months stands at USD 5 Billion. It would be useful for the average reader if the amount is converted to Rupees and shown. It works out to a mind boggling Rs.700,000Mln. (Conversion rate: Rs. 140/= per dollar)
3)Also, offering solutions to get over this debt trap such as by increasing our exports and reducing our imports would urge the masses to rise to the occasion.
Retd.DGM – Bank of Ceylon